{On the uses of hair dryers in the kitchen.}

In which Mr. Tom Campbell extols the “nerdy anglophile potboiler,” the men in the trenches extol Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, the Lee Brothers advise that bribery achieves better results than thievery, and Ms. Janna McMahan wants to keep you up all night.

February 17, 2012

Dearest readers,

Is there anything more frustrating that a warm and windy seventy-degree day that is following by a cold wet night where it drops into the twenties? This time of year tries her ladyship’s patience, for she wants to be out in her garden, planting sugar snap peas, but the weather is defiant. Control freaks make very stressed-out gardeners.

Accordingly, having been thwarted in her planting plans by a late cold snap, her ladyship decided that comfort food was in order, and has spent the last seven days systematically baking everything in the desert section of the Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen--the latest cookbook by Ted and Matt Lee, two of the sweetest and most comforting young men ever to stand slaving over a hot stove.

And full of such practical advice! Who would have thought that a hair dryer would be an indispensible tool when frosting a caramel cake?

Also, full of a fair helping of mischief, which explains their occasional forays over the fences of other peoples’ gardens in order to steal kumquats off the trees.  Not that they recommend this practice to their readers. Bribery, they suggest, in the form of blueberry muffins or a fig cake, is much more likely to result a basket of citrus instead of a double-barreled shotgun pointed at your behind.

Or, you could try bargaining with their Grapefruit Chess Pie, which her ladyship can attest would be worth almost any amount of trespassing.

her ladyship, the editor

Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending February 17, 2013

STARS - A STARS Author | Okra Pick! - A SIBA Okra Pick 
Titles in red are SIBA Book Award winners and finalists!
Printable versions: Hardcover | Paperback | Children.

Hardcover Fiction

1. Tenth of December
George Saunders, Random House, $26, 9780812993806
2. A Week in Winter
Maeve Binchy, Knopf, $26.95, 9780307273574
3. Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn, Crown, $25, 9780307588364
4. Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Karen Russell, Knopf, $24.95, 9780307957238
5. The Dinner
Herman Koch, Hogarth, $24, 9780770437855
6. Insane City
Dave Barry, Putnam Adult, $26.95, 9780399158681
7. Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
Jennifer Chiaverini, Dutton, $26.95, 9780525953616
8. My Brother's Book
Maurice Sendak, Harper, $18.95, 9780062234896
9. Ghostman
Roger Hobbs, Knopf, $24.95, 9780307959966
10. Flight Behavior
Barbara Kingsolver, Harper, $28.99, 9780062124265
11. The Racketeer
John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385535144
12. The Aviator's Wife
Melanie Benjamin, Delacorte, $26, 9780345528674
13. The Round House
Louise Erdrich, Harper, $27.99, 9780062065247
14. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Ayana Mathis, Knopf, $24.95, 9780385350280
15. A Memory of Light
Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Tor, $34.99, 9780765325952

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. My Beloved World
Sonia Sotomayor, Knopf, $27.95, 9780307594884
2. Help, Thanks, Wow
Anne Lamott, Riverhead, $17.95, 9781594631290
3. The Future
Al Gore, Random House, $30, 9780812992946
4. Killing Kennedy
Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Holt, $28, 9780805096668
5. True Love: 24 Surprising Stories of Animal Affection
Rachel Buchholz, National Geographic Society, $9.95, 9781426210365
6. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
Jon Meacham, Random House, $35, 9781400067664
7. I Could Pee on This
Francesco Marciuliano, Chronicle, $12.95, 9781452110585
8. Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World
Phillip C. McGraw, Bird Street Books, $26, 9780985462734
9. The World Until Yesterday
Jared M. Diamond, Viking, $36, 9780670024810
10. Coolidge
Amity Shlaes, Harper, $35, 9780061967559
11. The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era
Jessica Fellowes, Matthew Sturgis, St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250027627
12. Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Katherine Boo, Random House, $27, 9781400067558
13. The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think
Brian Hare, Vanessa Woods, Dutton Books, $27.95, 9780525953197
14. A Higher Call
Adam Makos, Larry Alexander, Berkley, $26.95, 9780425252864
15. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof
Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780307464873

Trade Paperback Fiction

1. The Paris Wife
Paula McLain, Ballantine, $15, 9780345521316
2. A Land More Kind Than Home
Wiley Cash, Morrow, $14.99, 9780062088239
3. Fifty Shades of Grey
E.L. James, Vintage, $15.95, 9780345803481
4. Death Comes to Pemberley
P.D. James, Vintage, $15, 9780307950659
5. The Great Gatsby
F.Scott Fitzgerald, Scribner, $15, 9780743273565
6. The Language of Flowers
Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Ballantine, $15, 9780345525550
7. Rules of Civility
Amor Towles, Penguin, $16, 9780143121169
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky, MTV Books, $14, 9781451696196
9. Wolf Hall
Hilary Mantel, Picador, $16, 9780312429980
10. The Sense of an Ending
Julian Barnes, Vintage, $14.95, 9780307947727
11. Life of Pi
Yann Martel, Mariner, $15.95, 9780547848419
12. Canada
Richard Ford, Ecco Press, $15.99, 9780061692031
13. Fifty Shades Freed
E.L. James, Vintage, $15.95, 9780345803504
14. The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern, Anchor, $15, 9780307744432
15. A Good American
Alex George, Berkley Publishing Group, $16, 9780425253175

Trade Paperback Nonfiction

1. Proof of Heaven
Eben Alexander, M.D., S&S, $15.99, 9781451695199
2. Team of Rivals
Doris Kearns Goodwin, S&S, $21, 9781451688092
3. Quiet
Susan Cain, Broadway, $16, 9780307352156
4. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
The Countess of Carnarvon, Broadway, $15.99, 9780770435622
5. In the Garden of Beasts
Erik Larson, Broadway, $16, 9780307408853
6. ObamaCare Survival Guide
Nick J. Tate, Humanix, $19.95, 9780893348625
7. The 5 Love Languages
Gary Chapman, Northfield, $14.99, 9780802473158
8. Wreck This Journal
Keri Smith, Perigee, $13.95, 9780399533464
9. The Swerve
Stephen J. Greenblatt, Norton, $16.95, 9780393343403
10. From Mama's Table to Mine
Bobby Deen, Melissa Clark, Ballantine, $22, 9780345536631
11. Bossypants
Tina Fey, Reagan Arthur Books, $15.99, 9780316056878
12. The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz, Amber-Allen, $12.95, 9781878424310
13. Unlikely Friendships
Jennifer S. Holland, Workman, $13.95, 9780761159131
14. The Alzheimer's Prevention Program
Gary Small, Gigi Vorgan, Workman, $13.95, 9780761172222
15. The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity
Nancy Gibbs, Michael Duffy, S&S, $18, 9781439127728

Mass Market

1. A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $8.99, 9780553593716
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee, Warner, $7.99, 9780446310789
3. American Sniper
Chris Kyle, Harper, $9.99, 9780062238863
4. A Storm of Swords
George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $8.99, 9780553573428
5. The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank, Bantam, $7.99, 9780553577129
6. Echo Burning
Lee Child, Jove, $9.99, 9780515143829
7. Safe Haven
Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central, $7.99, 9780446547574
8. The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger, Warner, $6.99, 9780316769488
9. Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card, Tor, $6.99, 9780812550702
10. Taken
Robert Crais, Berkley, $9.99, 9780425250594

Children's Illustrated

1. This Is Not My Hat
Jon Klassen, Candlewick, $15.99, 9780763655990
2. Safari: A Photicular Book
Dan Kainen, Carol Kaufmann, Workman, $24.95, 9780761163800
3. Emeraldalicious
Victoria Kann, Harper, $17.99, 9780061781261
4. Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (Illus.), Harper, $8.99, 9780694003617
5. On the Night You Were Born
Nancy Tillman, Feiwel & Friends, $7.99, 9780312601553
6. Pat the Bunny
Dorothy Kunhardt, Golden, $9.99, 9780307120007
7. I Want My Hat Back
Jon Klassen, Candlewick, $15.99, 9780763655983
8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle, Putnam, $10.99, 9780399226908
9. The Giving Tree
Shel Silverstein, Harper, $16.99, 9780060256654
10. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Eric Litwin, James Dean (Illus.), Harper, $16.99, 9780061906220

Children's Interest

1. The One and Only Ivan
Katherine Applegate, Patricia Castelao (Illus.), Harper, $16.99, 9780061992254
2. The Fault in Our Stars
John Green, Dutton, $17.99, 9780525478812
3. Who Could That Be at This Hour?
Lemony Snicket, Little Brown, $15.99, 9780316123082
4. Wonder
R.J. Palacio, Knopf, $15.99, 9780375869020
5. Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys, Speak, $8.99, 9780142420591
6. The Book Thief
Markus Zusak, Knopf, $12.99, 9780375842207
7. The Apothecary
Maile Meloy, Puffin, $7.99, 9780142422069
okra8. Out of the Easy
Ruta Sepetys, Philomel Books, $17.99, 9780399256929

9. Three Times Lucky
Sheila Turnage, Dial, $16.99, 9780803736702
10. Looking for Alaska
John Green, Speak, $9.99, 9780142402511

Children's Fiction Series Titles

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid:The Third Wheel
Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9781419705847
2. Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Little Brown, $9.99, 9780316077033
3. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
Rick Riordan, Hyperion, $7.99, 9781423134947
4. Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures, #2)
Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Little Brown, $9.99, 9780316077040
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9780810993136
6. Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers
Dav Pilkey, Scholastic, $9.99, 9780545175364
7. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)
Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, $17.99, 9780439023498
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9780810983915
9. Shades of Earth (An Across the Universe Novel)
Beth Revis, Razorbill, $18.99, 9781595143990
10. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)
Rick Riordan, Miramax, $7.99, 9781423103349

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Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.

Lee Bros. Charleston KitchenHenry’s Cheese Spread

Makes 1 1/2 cups, enough for 6 to 8 people snacking time: 10 minutes

When Henry’s opened in 1932 at 54 N. Market Street, it served only beer and deviled crabs, but by the 1940s, it had evolved into Charleston’s most ambitious restaurant: waiters in white jackets, steaks trucked in from Kansas City, and the house’s own fanciful turns on local fish and shellfish. Of all the elegant touches at Henry’s, which survived until 1985, our favorite was the iced crudité dish with this stellar cheese spread. The son of Henry’s founder, Henry Shaffer, loaned us the recipe, which we adapted for household use.

10 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated (3 cups)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) lager or ale (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, drained
2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tobasco or Crystal
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth and spreadable. Transfer to a small bowl to serve.
-Ted and Matt Lee, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen

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Book Gossip

Literary News & Gossip passed along from the readers, the writers, the reviewers, the resellers, the riff raff, and dutifully repeated here by her ladyship (who falls into the last category).

Les MiserablesIf Northern writers had reservations about “Les Miserables,” Southern critics embraced the novel, despite Hugo’s abolitionist sympathies. In July 1863, The Southern Literary Messenger admitted that “[f]or M. Hugo the abolitionist, we entertain a sincere pity.” But the reviewer called the novel the “greatest and most elaborate work of Victor Hugo’s fruitful genius.” “To us,” he said, “it is a Bible in the fictitious literature of the nineteenth century.” In Camp, Reading ‘Les Miserables’

WashMargaret Wrinkle's debut novel "Wash" is one of those stories. The book explores slavery through the story of a "breeding sire" slave, Washington, who travels with his owner. His role is to impregnate other slaves, creating the next generation. "I think it touches on a subject in slavery that hasn't been touched on before: having a traveling slave and slave breeding," Maggie Stevenson, a bookseller at Lemuria Books, says. Margaret Wrinkle

Of particular interest is the chapter on Drinks, which has recipes for Loquat Manhattans, Summer Peach Coolers, and Kumquat-Chile Bloody Marys that beg to be drunk on a muggy afternoon whether or not you have access to a proper Southern veranda. First look at the Lee Bros. Charleston Cookbook

Wings of GlassFaith and God are central to this book, but there are no attempts to sway anyone. In Holmes’ deft hands, the main character, Penny, struggles with her faith, her marriage and her sense of self. There are no easy answers. Wings of Glass

Over this past President’s Day weekend in Georgia, more than 10,000 people gathered in Telfair Square to celebrate the Savannah Book Festival (SBF). Savannah is a natural draw to writers and readers. Local author Mark Murphy said of the city’s mystique and lure, “Savannah is a beautiful city with dirty knickers. The city is elegant and ancient, like a dowager queen, but also youthful and vibrant, like a young Goth punk trying to make her mark. Savannah tells her own tales--but she keeps a few secrets, as well.” The best-kept secret of this year’s festival was revealed during a ticketed author event, co-presented by Bobby Deen and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. Paula Deen and her eldest son Jamie joined Bobby during the Q&A section, surprising a delighted crowd. Staples of Savannah, the Deen’s turned the presentation into a mini family reunion, all three happily answering questions. Big name authors were part of the draw to this mid-sized festival. The lineup featured New York Times Bestsellers, Nobel Peace, and Pulitzer Prize Winners. James Patterson served as Friday night’s keynote. Savannah Book Festival Charms

In a move designed to bring more focus on celebrating Southern literature, the Arts & Education Council is changing the names of both its organization and its signature event. The organization is now called the Southern Lit Alliance and the Conference on Southern Literature is being renamed the Celebration of Southern Literature, according to Executive Director Susan Robinson. Council renames Southern Lit Alliance

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Author Gossip

Janna McMahan

Janna McMahonJanna has won numerous creative writing awards including being named a finalist for The Flannery O'Connor Fiction Award. Her short stories have been published online and in journals and magazines such as Wind, Limestone, Yamassee, The Nantahala Review, Arts Across Kentucky and Alimentum. Janna has also published many dozen personal essays and articles on visual and literary art. Her non-fiction has appeared in Skirt!, MAMM, Cure, Appalachian Journal, South Carolina Wildlife, Charleston and The New Southerner. Her essay, "A Name You Can Yell" was included in the anthology Literary Dogs and their South Carolina Writers from Hub City Press. Her essay, "My Prince of Tides: Or How I Stalked Pat Conroy" will be included in the forthcoming anthology The Limelight from Muddy Ford Press.


Request Janna for an event or book club

STARSSTARS Authors on tour:

What are "STARS" authors? These are authors listing in the Southern Traveling Authors Registration Service--a directory of authors who live in, or are traveling in the South and are interested in meeting with book clubs, civic groups, classrooms, and readers of all kinds. The STARS directory is brought to you by Southern Indie Booksellers, who want to connect readers with their favorite writers.

Authors traveling right now:

See the full list online here and find the authors touring in your area here

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Bookstore Gossip

Miss Julia Stirs Up TroubleTo celebrate the upcoming release of Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble (coming out on April 9th), we are sponsoring a "Taste of Hendersonville Recipe Contest." In this 14th novel in the Miss Julia series, Hazel Marie desperately needs help in the kitchen and fast! Taste of Hendersonville Contest

After eight years, we have outgrown our current location.  Now, our search for a new home has ended and, in early March, we will be moving one block down the street.  I think the most exciting thing is more space! More space for books! More space for lounging chairs and tables! More space for Book Clubs to meet! More space for NEW IDEAS! Book Tavern moves to the White’s Building

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Lady Banks' {Book} Trailer Park: The Lee Brothers Boiled Peanuts Catalog

The Lee Brothers and their Boiled Peanut Catalogue

“Charleston has this culture of being close to food.”

(via Oxford American)

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Read This! Okra Picks and the bestselling young reader books of 2012 at Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

Lee Bros. Charleston KitchenThe Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Ted & Matt Lee

Let James Beard Award-winning authors and hometown heroes

Matt Lee and Ted Lee be your culinary ambassadors to Charleston, South Carolina, one of America's most storied and buzzed-about food destinations.

Growing up in the heart of the historic downtown, in a warbler-yellow house on Charleston's fabled "Rainbow Row," brothers Matt and Ted knew how to cast for shrimp before they were in middle school, and could catch and pick crabs soon after. They learned to recognize the fruit trees that grew around town and knew to watch for the day in late March when the loquats on the tree on Chalmers Street ripened. Their new cookbook brings the vibrant food culture of this great Southern city to life, giving readers insider access to the best recipes and stories Charleston has to offer.

Lee Bros. Charleston KitchenNo cookbook on the region would be complete without the city's most iconic dishes done right, including She-Crab Soup, Hoppin' John, and Huguenot Torte, but the Lee brothers also aim to reacquaint home cooks with treasures lost to time, like chewy-crunchy, salty-sweet Groundnut Cakes and Syllabub with Rosemary Glazed Figs. In addition, they masterfully bring the flavors of today's Charleston to the fore, inviting readers to sip a bright Kumquat Gin Cocktail, nibble chilled Pickled Shrimp with Fennel, and dig into a plate of Smothered Pork Chops, perhaps with a side of Grilled Chainey Briar, foraged from sandy beach paths. The brothers left no stone unturned in their quest for Charleston's best, interviewing home cooks, chefs, farmers, fishermen, caterers, and funeral directors to create an accurate portrait of the city's food traditions. Their research led to gems such as Flounder in Parchment with Shaved Vegetables, an homage to the dish that became Edna Lewis's signature during her tenure at Middleton Place Restaurant, and Cheese Spread a la Henry's, a peppery dip from the beloved brasserie of the mid-twentieth century. Readers are introduced to the people, past and present, who have left their mark on the food culture of the Holy City and inspired the brothers to become the cookbook authors they are today.

Through 100 recipes, 75 full-color photographs, and numerous personal stories, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen gives readers the most intimate portrayal yet of the cuisine of this exciting Southern city, one that will resonate with food lovers wherever they live. And for visitors to Charleston, indispensible walking and driving tours related to recipes in the book bring this food town to life like never before.

Full set of Okra Picks here

Recommended Reading from Southern Booksellers

Finding Camlann"A nerdy Anglophile potboiler"

In the editor's letter that came with the advance copy of a new novel, this was the phrase that got my attention. That and the fact that the editor, W.W. Norton's Elaine Mason, was over the top in her enthusiasm for the book. And in my experience, Elaine Mason doesn't get overly enthusiastic very often.  So I took the book home, read through it in just a few sittings, and came away completely satisfied. Finding Camlann, a first novel by one Sean Pidgeon is everything Elaine Mason said it was, and more. The plot involves present-day anthropologists trying to locate the site of the perhaps mythical battle of Camlann, King Arthur's final battlefield somewhere on Salisbury Plain, where the stories say he received his mortal wound at the hands of Mordred. There's romance, scholarly competition and jealousy, beautiful descriptions of the historic English and Welsh countryside, and lots to learn about the history of Wales and the Welsh independence movement. And of course there are the legends of the life of King Arthur, and the evidence for them. All of this with storytelling that gets you involved in the hunt for clues that lead to Camlann. If the phrase "a nerdy Anglophie potboiler" perks your interest as much as it did mine, Finding Camlann is a book you're going to want to read. It's far the best novel I've read in this new year. --Tom Campbell, The Regulator in Durham, NC

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Author 2 Author: Janna McMahan & C. Hope Clark


Janna McMahanA Conversation with Janna McMahan, author of Anonymity, Koehler Press, by C. Hope Clark

Janna McMahan delves into the world of youth homelessness in her latest release Anonymity. This literary novel scrapes raw and exposes areas of our society we don’t care to think about, but Janna does it in a way to intrigue and draw in the reader, making him or her care and want to know more. Her previous novel The Ocean Inside was nominated as a SIBA Book of the Year, and her shorts and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals. Anonymity, however, covers a different aspect of human emotion than Janna’s other works, and may be her best work yet.

HOPE: What exactly was the genesis for Anonymity? You show us a side of homelessness beyond the stereotypical mental illness, PTSD or prostitution. These are kids who are homeless for a myriad of reasons, and their plight seems to be a fragile one, surrounded with tough edges. The research for this book had to be intense, so what drove you to delve into the world of homeless youth, particularly in Austin, Texas?.

JANNA: My story begins as Lorelei steps off the bus into the dry heat at the end of a long Texas day. She’s hungry and thirsty. Somebody has stolen her backpack, so here she is in a new town with no money and not even a sleeping bag. She moves through downtown Austin making her way through the happy hour crowd spilling into the streets. She’s looking for youth services, a sure place to find resources and a reprieve from judgment.

She’s young, but streetwise. She’s alone, but not at a loss. She’s cautious, but she knows how to get people to help her. I based her on a girl I’d seen in Austin many years ago, a street kid with dirty white-girl dreads, Doc Martins and facial tattoos. I carried a mental image of this child around with me for nearly two decades before her story came to me. Once I had the idea I had to find out why she was on the streets. What had caused her life on the move? The possibilities were many.

“Readers enjoy stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They want to relate to a character’s psychological imperative. They want a story that moves and moves them at the same time.”

AnonymityThe ultimate challenge as a writer was how to take a topic as troubling as homelessness and turn it into an entertaining, commercially viable story. I had a few editors who kindly rejected my book because it was so gritty and realistic. I believe readers desire socially relevant literature. People want compelling, thoughtful books about who we are today. Readers enjoy stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They want to relate to a character’s psychological imperative. They want a story that moves and moves them at the same time.

A number of people have written to tell me that Anonymity gave them a new perspective on homelessness. I’m pleased if my work can cause a positive shift in public perception about these kids. I’m also thankful that my publisher, Koehler Books, offered to donate a portion of the proceeds to LifeWorks, the Austin youth shelter that helped me with research. I hope we can raise a lot of money for LifeWorks and attract new people to the cause. If only one young person is helped because of this story, if only one adult reaches out when they would have walked on by, then my efforts will have been worthwhile.

HOPE: The reality of children living on the outskirts of society woven throughout was amazing. How did you do your research into the homeless to nail the ecology of the culture?

JANNA: A lot of the details of life on the streets came directly from talking with the kids who live it every day. Details such as the need for gallon water jugs and why backpacks of darker colors are more desirable. I learned how they managed travel and how they made money. The kids were open about their dislike of being interviewed or photographed, but they were interested in telling their side of things if they thought it would be portrayed accurately. Some things were direct translations and others were purely from my imagination, such as the scene where the girls steal tampons. It was a situation I knew a girl would find herself in at least once a month, if she was lucky. I thought of how awful it would be to have cramps and nowhere to sleep and then went from there. It was something I invented, but I know to be everyday reality for homeless girls.

HOPE: Your stories are intensely character driven. I sense a flavor of Jodi Picoult. Have you been compared to Picoult and has she impacted your writing in any way?

JANNA: When my first novel came out in 2008, the Louisville Courier-Journal wrote of Calling Home, “Fans of Jodi Picoult’s work will appreciate this novel’s sparse prose, unexpected plot turns and moral complexities.” So of course I ran right out and bought my first Jodi Picoult book and loved it. I think the comparison is a good one. We both write socially relevant literature with tension-driven plots. It’s fair to say that our style is a blend of commercial and literary fiction. A reader once called me the Southern Jodi Picoult. I’m a big fan of Jodi’s, so any comparison to her I take as the highest of compliments.

HOPE: Your characters, all of them, are flawed yet you lead us to empathize with each and every one. What I loved in Anonymity is that the title seems at first blush to be indicative of Lorelei, but I soon felt that all of the characters felt anonymous in their worlds. Was that your intention?

JANNA: You’re an insightful reader. Yes, that was my intention to some degree. Don’t we all have secret sides we hide from others? Do any of us truly know ourselves that well? Do we know our children or even the person we’ve been married to for decades? People are a mystery. They do the most inexplicable things. What about those serial killers whose neighbors are in shock that evil lived so close? “Why he was just the most quiet and sweet man,” they usually say.

I write each chapter from one character’s point-of-view, which makes it so straightforward to explain their thoughts and feelings and actions. People always have reasons why they do the things they do. We just don’t always understand or appreciate what those reasons are. Writing multiple POVs allows us inside the heads of key players and while we may not agree with their actions at least we understand them.

HOPE: Your work is generally Southern based. Are you a native? Do you call yourself a Southern writer? Did you grow up surrounded by writers or are you the one to strike out and tell stories?

JANNA: I’m from a small farming community in Central Kentucky. I’ve lived in South Carolina for the past 25 years, so I’m about as Southern as you can get. I’ve set books all over the South. I have no need for more material. We have some of the most interesting places, customs and people in the world, so why would I look elsewhere for material?

My first novel was recently translated into Turkish. I learned through that exchange that Europeans consider the South the last pure American culture. You can actually major in Southern American studies at university. I’m talking with someone about another translation, this time into French. It’s such a lovely experience to see my own culture through a fresh perspective.

“That’s why I write—to see if I can make you so entertained you’re sleep deprived.”

HOPE: What is your goal with your stories? In other words, what's your writing mission?

JANNA: Entertainment is my highest goal. I always ask readers, “If you got stuck in the airport and you randomly picked one of my novels to pass the time, would you be inclined to buy another book by me?” If the answer is yes, then I’ve achieved my goal. My stories are family-oriented psychological thrillers. I love it when people say they stayed up until three a.m. to finish or that they read it in a weekend. That’s why I write—to see if I can make you so entertained you’re sleep deprived.

HOPE: I sense a strong woman behind this body of work. Your messages are strong, and I'm sure they are an extension of you. How would you describe yourself, and how would you like your daughter to remember you?

JANNA: I once asked my daughter what she thought about my work and she said, “You write about what’s important even if it’s something people don’t particularly want to think about.” I find that writing about things people are hesitant to talk about tends to develop the best plots. I’ve always told my daughter the truth as I saw it—that life isn’t fair, that bad things happen to good people, that people will do things that make no sense.

I’m a cancer survivor, so I don’t cotton to nonsense. I believe that old adage that life is 5% what happens to you and 95% how you react to it. Believe in yourself. Help other people. Do the right thing. Do what you love, set high goals and then work your butt off. Don’t expect the world to hand you success. You have to make your own success. Just see if you can give a few other people a hand on your way up.

“When I was eleven I volunteered at our local library and that was when I started reading adult literature. I wanted more than anything to see my name on the spine of a book on those humble shelves.”

HOPE: Your degrees are in communication. What or who promoted you to cross into creative fiction and creative nonfiction that isn’t so commercially driven?

JANNA: I’m just a writer. I’ve always have been a writer. I started writing short stories in fifth grade. When I was eleven I volunteered at our local library and that was when I started reading adult literature. I wanted more than anything to see my name on the spine of a book on those humble shelves.

When I went to college I didn’t think of fiction as a career. I didn’t know creative writing programs existed, so I got a Master’s in journalism. I worked in PR and loved it. I enjoy figuring out the angle of a story, interviewing people, the actual writing, working with the media. It’s all the same talent. I spent some time as a television announcer, but I quickly decided that being the one deciding what was important appealed to me more than being on camera. I wanted to shape the stories, not just read them.

HOPE: You've done well with your short stories as well as your novels, having published in journals such as Wind, Limestone, Yamassee and Alimentum. You also enjoy essays. In which writing form do you consider your voice the strongest and which do you prefer?

JANNA: My father once quipped that writing was the perfect profession for me because, “Janna has an opinion on everything.” I’ve scattered a number of essays and articles around the country over the years. My essays tend to either be personal or political. My articles are generally about culture of some sort—visual or literary art usually. My next novel is about culinary art, so I’m hoping to write a number of magazine articles about food in the next few years.

I always write short stories. I can’t help myself. An idea will just jump into my head and I’ll write a story in a weekend. Then I’ll tinker with it for a year sometimes before I’m completely happy. The only way I can stop working on a story is to have it published. Then I can move on. I have a collection of short stories that was recently a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Awards. I wish I could get that published so I could stop agonizing over it.

HOPE: What is your next project? 

JANNA: My next book revolves around a chef, his botanist brother and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. This one is more of a love story than I usually write, but it also has a crime novel vibe. I’m so impressed with all the people I’ve met while doing research—internationally acclaimed chefs and horticulturists and people who own mills and organic farms. I love all parts of a writing career, but gaining firsthand exposure about a new subject from key players in a particular field is always exciting for me. That’s the journalist in me. I love the beginning stages of a new project when anything can happen.


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In This Issue

Special to the Southern List

(Books that appear on the Southern list, but not the national list)  Click on a book to purchase from a great indie bookstore!

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker The Racketeer Coolidge The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think A Higher Call Barefoot Contessa Foolproof A Land More Kind Than Home Fifty Shades Freed A Good American From Mama's Table to Mine The Four Agreements The Alzheimer's Prevention Program The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity The Diary of a Young Girl Echo Burning Safe Haven Taken On the Night You Were Born The Giving Tree Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes Between Shades of Gray Out of the Easy Three Times Lucky



Author Readings

William Deane -- Smooth Criminal  (author appearance)
William Deane
02/24/2013, 04:00 pm
Books & Books Inc
Coral Gables, FL

Marjorie Heins -- Priests of Our Democracy  (author appearance)
Marjorie Heins
02/24/2013, 06:00 pm
Books & Books Inc
Coral Gables, FL

Judy Conner - Southern Fried Divorce: The After Party  (author appearance)
Judy Conner
02/24/2013, 03:00 pm
Garden District Book Shop
New Orleans, LA

Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement  (author appearance)
Minrose Gwin
02/24/2013, 03:00 pm
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC

Sarah Crosland - Food Lovers' Guide to Charlotte  (author appearance)
Sarah Crosland
02/24/2013, 02:00 pm
Park Road Books
Charlotte, NC

Okra Pick!RON RASH PRESENTS NEW SHORT STORY COLLECTION *ticketed*  (author appearance)
Ron Rash
02/24/2013, 05:00 pm
Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe
Asheville, NC

Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business  (author appearance)
John Mackey
02/25/2013, 12:30 pm
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC

Mark Statman, translator - BLACK TULIPS: The Selected Poems of Jos? Mar?a Hinojosa  (author appearance)
Mark Statman
02/25/2013, 6pm
Octavia Books
New Orleans, LA

Gary Small. M.D., The Alzheimer's Prevention Program   (author appearance)
Gary Small. M.D.
02/25/2013, 07:00 pm
The Book Mark

Don Blackwell -- Dear Ashley  (author appearance)
Don Blackwell
02/26/2013, 06:30 pm
Books & Books Inc
Coral Gables, FL

Bernard Diederich -- The Seeds of Fiction  (author appearance)
Bernard Diederich
02/26/2013, 08:00 pm
Books & Books Inc
Coral Gables, FL

Elsa Hahne: The Gravy: In the Kitchen with New Orleans Musicians  (author appearance)
Elsa Hahne
02/26/2013, 05:30 pm
Garden District Book Shop
New Orleans, LA

Ariel Djankian reads from her science fiction novel The Office of Mercy  (author appearance)
Djankian, Ariel
02/26/2013, 07:00 pm
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill, NC

Sarah Azaransky  (author appearance)
Sarah Azaransky
02/26/2013, 07:00 pm
Regulator Bookshop
durham, NC

Mark! My Words (How to Discover the Joy of Music, the Delight of Language, and the Pride of Achievement in the Age of Trash Talk  (author appearance)
Mark Evans
02/26/2013, 05:00 pm
The Country Bookshop
Southern Pines, NC

Author event with Charles Scott  (author appearance)
Charles Scott
02/26/2013, 06:30 pm
Parnassus Books
Nashville, TN

Michael Shuman - LOCAL DOLLARS, LOCAL SENSE  (author appearance)
Michael Shuman
02/26/2013, 06:00 pm
Octavia Books
New Orleans, LA

Book Your Lunch with Jessica Maria   (author appearance)
Jessica Maria Tuccelli
02/26/2013, 12:00 pm
Fiction Addiction
Greenville, SC

Author Talk - Tom Cappiello  (author appearance)
Tom Cappiello
02/26/2013, 05:30 pm
Copperfish Books, LLC
Punta Gorda, FL

Ellen Kanner -- Feeding the Hungry Ghost  (author appearance)
Ellen Kanner
02/27/2013, 08:00 pm
Books & Books Inc
Coral Gables, FL

Book Your Lunch with Jean Hunt  (author appearance)
Hunt, Jean
02/27/2013, 12:00 pm
The Lazy Goat

Chimamanda Adichie  (author appearance)
Chimamanda Adichie
02/27/2013, 05:15 pm
Regulator Bookshop
durham, NC

Jack Abramoff-Capitol Punishment talk and signing  (author appearance)
Jack Abramoff
02/27/2013, 02:15 pm
Eagle Eye Book Shop
Atlanta, GA

Dennis Kimbro signs, The Wealth Choice  (author appearance)
Dennis Kimbro
02/27/2013, 07:00 pm
Eagle Eye Book Shop
Atlanta, GA

James Dodson: American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf  (author appearance)
James Dodson
02/27/2013, 07:00 pm
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill, NC

Book Your Lunch with Jean Hunt  (author appearance)
Jean Hunt
02/27/2013, 12:00 pm
Fiction Addiction
Greenville, SC

Jenny Milchman - Cover of Snow  (author appearance)
Jenny Milchman
02/27/2013, 04:00 pm
Nightbird Books
Fayetteville, AR

Ellen Kanner -- Feeding the Hungry Ghost  (author appearance)
Ellen Kanner
02/28/2013, 06:00 pm
Books & Books Inc
Coral Gables, FL

Dr. Neal Barnard -- Power Foods for the Brain  (author appearance)
Dr. Neal Barnard
02/28/2013, 08:00 pm
Books & Books Inc
Coral Gables, FL

Meet Lauretta Hannon, Author of The Cracker Queen – A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life  (author appearance)
Lauretta Hannon
02/28/2013, 10:30 am
G.J. Ford Bookshop
St. Simons Island, GA

Lynn Povich - The Good Girls Revolt  (author appearance)
Lynn Povich
02/28/2013, 03:30 pm
Alabama Booksmith
Birmingham, AL

Gordon Mantler  (author appearance)
Gordon Mantler
02/28/2013, 07:00 pm
Regulator Bookshop
durham, NC

Author event with Evan Thomas  (author appearance)
Evan Thomas
02/28/2013, 06:30 pm
Parnassus Books
Nashville, TN

Sophia Nash & Jennifer McQuiston Talk and Signing  (author appearance)
Sophia Nash
02/28/2013, 07:00 pm
Eagle Eye Book Shop
Atlanta, GA

Daniel Brook - A HISTORY OF FUTURE CITIES  (author appearance)
Daniel Brook
02/28/2013, 06:00 pm
Octavia Books
New Orleans, LA

Middlebrow Queer: Christopher Isherwood in America--An evening with Jaime Harker  (author appearance)
Jaime Harker
02/28/2013, 07:30 pm
Charis Books & More
Atlanta, GA

Author Talk - Jan Edwards  (author appearance)
Jan Edwards
02/28/2013, 05:30 pm
Copperfish Books, LLC
Punta Gorda, FL

Holly Goddard Jones
02/28/2013, 07:00 pm
Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe
Asheville, NC

Lilly Ledbetter and Lanier Isom - Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond  (author appearance)
Lilly Ledbetter
03/02/2013, 02:00 pm
Alabama Booksmith
Birmingham, AL

Moveable Feast in Surf City  (author appearance)
Emily Colin
03/02/2013, 12:00 pm
Quarter Moon Bookstore
Topsail Beach, NC

Key West author Michael Haskins will discuss and sign Car Wash Blues  (author appearance)
Michael Haskins
03/02/2013, 01:00 pm
Hooked On Books
Islamorada, FL

Talk and Signing  (author appearance)
Jessica Maria Tuccelli
03/03/2013, 07:00 am
Eagle Eye Book Shop
Atlanta, GA

Stacey Cordery, Girl Scout Leadership Luncheon  (author appearance)
Stacey Cordery
03/05/2013, 11:30 am
Sarasota, FL

Book Signing Event With Randy Wayne White!  (author appearance)
White, Randy Wayne
03/06/2013, 06:30 pm
Sanibel Island Bookshop
Sanibel, FL

Author Jessica Maria Tuccelli Glows  (author appearance)
Jessica Maria Tuccelli
03/07/2013, 06:30 pm
Avid Bookshop
Athens, GA

Special eBook event  (author appearance)
Ora Mendels
03/07/2013, 7:00 pm
Sarasota, FL

Book signing with Joanna Fluke  (author appearance)
Joanne Fluke
03/07/2013, 02:30 pm
Classic Bookshop of the Palm Beaches Inc.
Palm Beach, FL

A Novel Music Tour: Acoustic concert by Lee Coulter & book signing with Sharisse Coulter  (author appearance)
Sharisse Coulter
03/08/2013, 06:30 pm
Avid Bookshop
Athens, GA

Red Velvet Cupcake Murders  (author appearance)
Joanne Fluke
03/09/2013, 08:00 pm
Books & Books Inc
Coral Gables, FL

Barbara-Ann Wheeler Book Signing  (author appearance)
Barbara-Ann Wheeler
03/09/2013, 01:00 pm
That Bookstore in Blytheville
Blytheville, AR

Robert Macomber thriller author signing  (author appearance)
Robert Macomber
03/10/2013, 2:00 pm
Sarasota, FL

Horton's Birthday Party  (other event)
03/11/2013, 02:00 pm
Horton's Books & Gifts
Carrollton, GA

Guest Author Joshilyn Jackson  (author appearance)
Jackson, Joshilyn
03/11/2013, 06:00 pm
Book Exchange
Marietta, GA

Joanne Fluke Reading and Book Signing  (author appearance)
Joanne Fluke
03/13/2013, 07:00 pm
Park Road Books
Charlotte, NC

Reading with Joanne Fluke  (author appearance)
Joanne Fluke
03/14/2013, 02:00 pm
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC

Joanne Fluke Reading and Book Signing  (author appearance)
Joanne Fluke
03/14/2013, 07:00 pm
Regulator Bookshop
durham, NC

Reading with Joanne Fluke  (author appearance)
Joanne Fluke
03/15/2013, 07:30 pm
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC

Reading with Loren Long  (author appearance)
Loren Long
03/15/2013, 04:00 pm
Page & Palette
Fairhope, AL

Reading with Joanne Fluke  (author appearance)
Joanne Fluke
03/19/2013, 06:30 pm
Fountain Bookstore
Richmond, VA

Manatee Library Foundation Luncheon with Adriana Trigiani  (author appearance)
Adriana Trigiani
03/22/2013, 11:00 am
Sarasota, FL

An Evening with Garrison Keillor  (other event)
03/25/2013, 7pm
Alabama Booksmith
Birmingham, AL

Okra Pick!Jill McCorkle - Life after Life  (author appearance)
Jill McCorkle
04/08/2013, 4pm
Alabama Booksmith
Birmingham, AL

The official launch of Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble!  (author appearance)
Ann B. Ross
04/09/2013, 5pm
The Fountainhead Bookstore
Hendersonville, NC

Read It & Eat with William Kent Krueger  (author appearance)
William Kent Krueger
04/11/2013, 12:00 pm
Page & Palette
Fairhope, AL

Okra Pick!Jill McCorkle Book Signing!  (author appearance)
Jill McCorkle
04/15/2013, 5pm
That Bookstore in Blytheville
Blytheville, AR

Authors Round the South